Fr. Rutler’s Weekly Column: June 21, 2019
Fr. George William Rutler
Fr. Rutler’s Weekly Column
July 21, 2019
If there is no objective truth, there are no heresies. For the lazy thinker, the mellow refrain suffices: “It’s all good.” The etymology of “heresy” is complicated, but it has come to mean a wrong choice. Yet, if the mere act of choosing justifies itself (as when people declare themselves “Pro-Choice”), then no choice is wrong. But we live in a real world, and so everything cannot be right. Thus, we have a new religion called political correctness, and anyone who is politically incorrect is accused of being “phobic” one way or another. Suddenly what claims to be liberal is decidedly illiberal, and what is called “free speech” is anything but free.
This confusion is rooted in a fundamental misunderstanding of creation itself. The world follows an order; otherwise all would be chaos. As God has revealed himself as its Creator, there are truths about the world that cannot be denied without illogical anarchy. Every heresy is an exaggeration of a truth. For instance, Arianism teaches the humanity of Christ to the neglect of his divinity, and Apollinarianism does the opposite. The long list of heresies with complicated names illustrates how many deep thinkers made mistakes by relying only on their own limited powers of deduction. The two most destructive heresies were Gnosticism and Calvinism, which totally misunderstood creation and the human condition. Thus, we have the romantic fantasizing of Teilhard de Chardin and the sociopathic astringency of John Calvin.
In the first chapter of his letter to the Colossians, Saint Paul sets the orthodox template by raising his glorious theology to an effervescent canticle praising the mystery of Christ “who is the image of the unseen God and the first born of all creation.” This hymnody animates the Office of Vespers in the weeks of each month: “. . . for in him were created all things in heaven and on earth . . .”
By natural intelligence, we would know God as the Designer of the universal order (Romans 1:19-20), but only by God’s revelation can we know the existence of Christ transcending time and space. By Christ’s enfleshment and the shedding of his blood on the Cross, as Saint John Paul II said, quoting Colossians, “the face of the Father, Creator of the universe becomes accessible in Christ, author of created reality: ‘all things were created through him . . . in him all things hold together.’” So Christ cannot be understood as just another wise man in the mold of Confucius or Solomon. As Saint Cyril of Alexandria proclaimed: “We do not say that a simple man, full of honors, I know not how, by his union with Him was sacrificed for us, but it is the very Lord of glory who was crucified.”
Without recrimination or censoriousness, but just looking around at the disastrous state of contemporary culture, logic can conclude that, if all things hold together in Christ, without Christ all things fall apart